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How to remove wallpaper paste

Date posted: 9 March 2015

This useful guide will show you how to remove wallpaper paste like a Pro.

Before you start…

Make sure you remove all wallpaper paste thoroughly if you intend to paint or re-wallpaper a room, as any glue residue will cause the paint to flake and lift off.  

1. Remove the Paste

Protect all of your furniture, outlets, floors, and any other item of the home to avoid electrical damage and prevent water damage. Use a painter's tape to cover all spots. 

2. Get Ready

Fill your pump with water and some liquid dishwashing soap (just a couple of tablespoons will do), but NO bleach or any product that contains it. The soap will help break down the paste by providing enzyme action. However, there are also commercial products that can also be added to the water that work the same (enzyme activity) and bring equally satisfying results. 

Once your pump sprayer is filled with water and the solution mentioned, adjust the spray pattern until you get a feathered, soft spray, rather than coarse spray that will get you too much water running down the wall. 

3. Apply Water to the Paste

To prevent serious injury or shock when removing the wallpaper paste, it is advised to turn off all electricity to the room you will be working on.  Needless to say, you should be extra careful when working around switches or electrical outlets. 

4. Remove the Paste

Pressurise the solution inside your sprayer by pumping it a few times. Then, use it to apply the solution to the wallpaper paste, always working from the top of the wall to the bottom. This will save you from cleaning areas multiple times. Leave the solution work its way into the wallpaper paste for about 5 minutes.

At this phase, you will see the wallpaper paste starting to soften. Now it’s time to use a 5” putty knife to scrape down the glue and eventually remove it completely. If, for some reason, the wallpaper paste is not yet softened enough to remove easily, re-spray that area and leave for another 5 minutes, before you repeat the same process again, until you get the job done.  

If you have stubborn residual wallpaper paste, you can re-spray the walls and then use a grill cleaner to scrub the area more aggressively until the paste is loose. Then, simply wipe the walls clean with a towel or sponge. 

Note: Don’t forget to remove the painter's tape and follow the same procedure to the wallpaper paste that was previously masked. Only this time, don’t use a sprayer, but a slightly damp sponge or towel, and be careful not to touch or spray water at anything inside of the light switch boxes or outlet. 

Remember:

Unsealed walls are more susceptible to drywall damage occurring during the paste removal process because too much water is allowed to penetrate the drywall facing. You can seal them with a pre-wall primer or be extra careful when using the putty or mud knife to remove the paste, to avoid gauging the surface.

5.  Let it Dry

Once you have removed all the paste from the walls, allow them to dry before you turn the electricity back on. Some people use an extension cord from another room and use a box fan to speed up the process, if they need to get down to painting the room sooner than if they left the walls dry for themselves.  

Advice

  • Rinse your towel or sponge and change your water frequently, to have a clean surface at all times. You will know whether the paste has been removed from the wall entirely if you run your hand over the surface of the wall and you get a squeaky clean feel. In any other case, you still have some more work to do.
  • Remember that old wallpaper paste may contain fungicides that are toxic; therefore, dispose of the wallpaper residue accordingly, always prohibiting children and pets from entering the area you are working.


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